Despite being home to less than one-seventh of the world’s population, Africa can boast immense linguistic diversity, with almost one-third of the world’s languages being spoken here. In contrast to most other linguistically diverse regions, Africa shows a relatively high degree of language vitality.

Over 2,000 African languages are traditionally classified under four large families, namely Niger-Congo, Afro-Asiatic, Nilo-Saharan, and Khoisan (the genetic unity of the last two groupings is questionable), with a small number of Indo-European and Austronesian languages, as well as language isolates and languages that have so far not been classified.

The linguistic heritage of North Africa notably includes Ancient Egyptian, one of the two oldest recorded languages in the history of humankind (together with Sumerian).

Africa has its share of rare and smaller languages, as only 50 African languages have more than 500,000 speakers. ILARA offers courses in African languages representing the Niger-Congo and Afro-Asiatic. For more courses in African languages, see the list of courses offered at the EPHE–PSL.

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